Old Keyboard guy hoping to find utility in VST instruments - new to Mac - new to DAW - wooohooo!!


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Hi - nice to be here!

I am an 'old fart' keyboard guy who used to gig for a living when the DX7 was new on the market. I used a Hammond Porta B/leslie, Clav D6, Arp Odyssey, Yamaha CP70, and some crazy piece of Yamaha something or other for strings/orchestra for quite the run of time. And I must say - I kicked Ass! Studio work when tape was king, TV shows the same. : )

Move it up a year or two, interfere with life and..... Sigh... and I'm just getting round to learning to use a DAW. Going Mac with Logic Pro and hoping to cobble together a useful 'stage' rig using a top end - but old - 2013 2.7 i7 MacBookPro I'm about to pick up tomorrow.

I am hoping to ask some newbie questions about getting up and running - first thing to sort is MIDI I/O for using older controllers (optimistic to get at least started with my existing Casio Privia and an old KORG SP100 piano hopefully as the weighted 88 board - and buying a new controller with maybe 61 keys or so for learning to use Logic and maybe Mainstage). I don't want to drop too much more money if I can't get a sound/latency that I can enjoy.

I am bogging down a bit regarding looking at equipment to get going (midi I/O, useful controller) as I am a hopelessly cheap Scot who gets upset with himself when he purchases more crap to throw in the basement under the extra dishes. I would like to make some good decisions. And, I am really hoping a useful keyboard rig will make playing all the more enjoyable.

I have used Reason maybe 10 years ago and the latency was awful. Bad set up mind you. I'm nervous my experience will suck - and that the new MBP will end up under the dishes. (I'm a pretty demanding piano/keyboard fella and any latency that impedes playing will bring out the Taylor the Black Scottish side - then...... not great!) : )

So there you go. Full of burdens and bias. Aged and dented. But, curious as hell!!!!

Looking forward to the plunge!
 
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Welcome.

The Macbook should have Garage Band installed which is a cut down version of Logic, it is a free download anyway if it is not on the Mac Book, so that defers the $200 or so cost of Logic for a while if you want.

Mainstage uses the instrument voices from Logic.

Using your keyboards as MIDI controllers should be as simple and connecting one via a USB cable to the Mac Book.

Zero cash outlay so far and if everything works OK then you are up and running for nothing.

First bought item I suggest would be a MIDI specific keyboard controller but here is where the first hurdle applies, the feel of the keybed varies greatly and does so relative to the price, an M Audio 88 is weighted and costs about $310, whereas an Arturia Keylab Essential 49 with synth type key action is $200.

Mainstage is currently $30 and Logic Pro $200 but do check that the old Macbook can run the latest operating system, for if it cannot you are screwed as I do not think that Logic (or Garage Band) will run on old operating systems.

So for $510 (or $540 including Mainstage) you are fully sorted as long as the Macbook is up to the task.

Btw
I have an Arturia Keylab Essential 49 and that works great on my Wife’s iMac and I only use Garage Band.
 
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Further thought

If you do look at buying a MIDI keyboard controller do look at what is included with it as bundled software, most come with a free cuto down but still very capable DAW such as Abelton Lite, and additionally VST software synths or pianos can also be included
 
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Welcome.

The Macbook should have Garage Band installed which is a cut down version of Logic, it is a free download anyway if it is not on the Mac Book, so that defers the $200 or so cost of Logic for a while if you want.

Mainstage uses the instrument voices from Logic.

Using your keyboards as MIDI controllers should be as simple and connecting one via a USB cable to the Mac Book.

Zero cash outlay so far and if everything works OK then you are up and running for nothing.

First bought item I suggest would be a MIDI specific keyboard controller but here is where the first hurdle applies, the feel of the keybed varies greatly and does so relative to the price, an M Audio 88 is weighted and costs about $310, whereas an Arturia Keylab Essential 49 with synth type key action is $200.

Mainstage is currently $30 and Logic Pro $200 but do check that the old Macbook can run the latest operating system, for if it cannot you are screwed as I do not think that Logic (or Garage Band) will run on old operating systems.

So for $510 (or $540 including Mainstage) you are fully sorted as long as the Macbook is up to the task.

Btw
I have an Arturia Keylab Essential 49 and that works great on my Wife’s iMac and I only use Garage Band.

Thanks for the input - much appreciated! I will certainly try out why I have by plugging straight in with USB and see what happens. I will also take a look at the keyboards you mention - thnx! And....it may be well worth my while to familiarize with Garageband first before loading up Logic. I was just thinking the VST sounds would be better in Logic??

You bring up an important point that I didn't realize until just now - age of Macs and compatability with OS systems.


.....do check that the old Macbook can run the latest operating system, for if it cannot you are screwed as I do not think that Logic (or Garage Band) will run on old operating systems.

I am just going to purchase this laptop this afternoon - so it isn't done yet. It is an early 2013 and currently has Mojave loaded up - and I checked on Apple and no problem with this OS and the laptop. However, it looks like 'Catalina' is coming out soon and 2013 MacBook Pros are not on the list of what will be compatible with Catalina - need I worry about this??

Will this laptop become obsolete too quickly or will I get a couple of years out of it or?????? I am new to Mac and don't really like this controlling part that comes with Apple.

Thanx for the input!!
 
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We have had our iMac for a few years now and it upgrades fine but shortly after there is a major update all of the Apple Apps we have including Garage Band pop up as there is an update pending.

Certainly on an iPad you cannot update Apple Apps until the iPad op system has been updated.

There is one major advantage with Apple products is that they work, the major disadvantage is the cost but if you consider that Apple bundle free Apps that would cost many hundreds of Bucks if said apps were installed on a Windows PC it offsets the cost somewhat and Logic Pro is over 1/2 the price of many similar Windows based Apps.

When you look at the MacBook do check what Apps are installed, ie Notes, Numbers, Keynote, Garage Band and if they are not installed have the person you are considering buying it off install them, if the MacBook cannot install it will say why, if they are installed check for updates and if there are any check the update box, again if it will not update it will say you need op system xyz to enable updates or words to that effect.

Have no qualms about getting a Mac the operating system is very easy to use as I said it just works but yes there is a finite limit to the age.

I am in the UK where the cheapest of the MacBook Pro range starts at £1250 and with that at some point a USB powered hard drive will be needed to expand the storage capacity which would be far cheaper than paying an extra £400 for upgrading the small inbuilt hard drive

Hope this helps
 
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I'm pretty sure Logic includes Mainstage, but you can also buy Mainstage alone. For live purposes, all you need is Mainstage, the sounds are the same. Logic adds DAW functions which are not typically needed for live performance.

The old Korg will not have a USB connection (and the Casio might not either, depending on how old it is), so a simple USB cable to connect to your Mac won't do. But you can get a MIDI-to-USB interface like a Roland UM-One or iConnectivity Mio (there are also some super-cheap no-name versions of this, which some people have found to work fine, while others have reported issues). You may want to do this regardless, as USB connections are less secure on the keyboard side, and are also more prone to ground hums. If you need it for both keyboards, you can look at two-device versions, i.e. MOTU Fastlane or iConnectivity Mio2.
 
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So I have picked up the MacBook Pro and it seems in sweet condition with barely any marks of any kind. Nice and clean.

It seems to run well except so far - but for a snag - I want to download GarageBand to just get started up but the Apple Store doesn't recognize my apple ID. I have had one for a few years on my iPad - the ID works I checked today, and have now logged into iCloud b/c some suggest that will/might help. So the account works perfectly well on apple.com etc. But the MacBook Pro won't log in giving an error message
I'm pretty sure Logic includes Mainstage, but you can also buy Mainstage alone. For live purposes, all you need is Mainstage, the sounds are the same. Logic adds DAW functions which are not typically needed for live performance.

The old Korg will not have a USB connection (and the Casio might not either, depending on how old it is), so a simple USB cable to connect to your Mac won't do. But you can get a MIDI-to-USB interface like a Roland UM-One or iConnectivity Mio (there are also some super-cheap no-name versions of this, which some people have found to work fine, while others have reported issues). You may want to do this regardless, as USB connections are less secure on the keyboard side, and are also more prone to ground hums. If you need it for both keyboards, you can look at two-device versions, i.e. MOTU Fastlane or iConnectivity Mio2.
That Apple ID thing took quite a while to sort - I found a fix eventually - both tiring and yet satisfying. : )

The Casio Privia 555r has a USB out - and it doesn't seem to do diddly on the computer. It doesn't show up at all in the sound module. I imagine though I can get it going with a proper USB interface - thanx for the comments here anotherscott. I think something a hardware I/O like the iconnectivity will be more suitable than the simple cable. ?? I like the idea of the cheaper cable, but it looks like the latency would be higher with one??

I have hooked up my Soundcraft Notepad 12FX USB 4x4 mixer - this should allow me to get sounds/mic into the computer yea? Right now the computer recognizes as I can select it as a Sound device instead of internal mics, but there is no output. I play a piano in it, sound going out to my amp, everything seems to work, but nothing goes on in the computer.

Thanks for the intro guys! Much appreciated. I will post these questions in a more suitable spot on the Forum now that I have landed!

I will
 

SeaGtGruff

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If the MacBook Pro is used, make sure it's been reset to remove all traces of the former owner's Apple ID. Then you should be able to set it up like new with your Apple ID. If that hasn't been done yet, I'd recommend doing it now, before you install anything on it, otherwise you'll have to reinstall everything once it's been reset.
 

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I haven't checked on Casio's website yet, but I'm pretty sure you'll need to install the macOS version of Casio's USB MIDI driver.
 
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The Casio Privia 555r has a USB out - and it doesn't seem to do diddly on the computer. It doesn't show up at all in the sound module. I imagine though I can get it going with a proper USB interface - thanx for the comments here anotherscott. I think something a hardware I/O like the iconnectivity will be more suitable than the simple cable. ?? I like the idea of the cheaper cable, but it looks like the latency would be higher with one??
I don't think you'd see any latency difference, but I think the issue is that the 555r is a least 13 years old and is probably not class compliant, which means for it to work over USB, you probably have to download and install their driver... which itself is so old that it might not work on your more current Mac anyway. Probably best to stick with the 5-pin DIN ports and an adapter regardless.
 
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I agree with Michael

I am pretty sure that you will need to reset the MacBook and then go through the startup process as though it is a new MacBook.

This is why I advised to check the installation at the vendors so that the update could be checked there prior to you buying it.

My concern is that you reset the MacBook and then it gives you error messages about updates not being possible.

If you can go back to the vender and ask them to update.
 
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I agree with Michael

I am pretty sure that you will need to reset the MacBook and then go through the startup process as though it is a new MacBook.

This is why I advised to check the installation at the vendors so that the update could be checked there prior to you buying it.

My concern is that you reset the MacBook and then it gives you error messages about updates not being possible.

If you can go back to the vender and ask them to update.
Yes I did read your comment about checking and I neglected to do so. The computer seems very empty and appears to be a new reload. Apple Store is loading ok now - so I think it should be good??? The vendor guy lives about 150miles from me - he is in a nearby town for a few days so I could probably track him. I think it is working - thoughts?
 

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If you got the issue with your Apple ID sorted, then hopefully it's okay. When you start up the MacBook Pro does the login screen show you as the main user? When you first received it, did you have to set it up with your user name and Apple ID as though it were brand new?

Another thing you'll want to do is check for any macOS updates and apply them.
 
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If you cannot track him down for him to update the system then a reset will clear all the user data and enable you to start as a new user of the MacBook using your Apple ID.

If it then cannot update the operating system then you will probably not be able to install GarageBand, Logic, or any other Apple App, I hope that I am wrong with this but I have a couple of friends with old MacBooks and they cannot update them, the only caveat is that I believe theirs are older than yours.
 
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I don't think you'd see any latency difference, but I think the issue is that the 555r is a least 13 years old and is probably not class compliant, which means for it to work over USB, you probably have to download and install their driver... which itself is so old that it might not work on your more current Mac anyway. Probably best to stick with the 5-pin DIN ports and an adapter regardless.
I have been a little tormented looking at all the I/O options so I picked up the only cheaper DIN adapter the local had - a M audio MIDISPORT Uno - just a cheap thang. They said I could bring it back if it worked to poorly. But - I must say it hooks up either of the 88 keys nicely - with manageable latency for playing. I'm pretty pleased it works as well as it does!

If you cannot track him down for him to update the system then a reset will clear all the user data and enable you to start as a new user of the MacBook using your Apple ID.

If it then cannot update the operating system then you will probably not be able to install GarageBand, Logic, or any other Apple App, I hope that I am wrong with this but I have a couple of friends with old MacBooks and they cannot update them, the only caveat is that I believe theirs are older than yours.
I got hold of the owner and ran it by him and he swears it was a full restart and that he deauthorized the AppleID. I have been able to do updates as to the OS and stuff is working great. I'm feeling comfortable it is good to go. But, thank you for your concern, it is important.


I still struggle with the new equipment! The Soundcraft board is not operating properly with the computer but hopefully I can solve that.

For now I am only using Garage Band - I know I will want more soon and will get Logic - and learning to bounce around in the DAW and get some things done. It is a lot of fun really - and lots of potential for even just my own backing tracks for noodling and all sorts. So, pretty pleased so far.

Onwards and upwards!
 

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Regarding latency, one thing that can help is to check things like buffer size on the audio driver. The smaller the buffer size, the better.
 
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Pleased for you that things are working out.

Garage Band is pretty basic but it works and is very easy to get into so it should be a good springboard for moving on to Logic, which I have only watched tutorials about but am more impressed by Logic than I am with other DAWs that are primarily operated under Windows which do have a steep learning curve and inherent connection, operation and driver issues compared to MAC based systems.

So what I am saying is, you have made a wise choice going the MAC route.
 
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Pleased for you that things are working out.

Garage Band is pretty basic but it works and is very easy to get into so it should be a good springboard for moving on to Logic, which I have only watched tutorials about but am more impressed by Logic than I am with other DAWs that are primarily operated under Windows which do have a steep learning curve and inherent connection, operation and driver issues compared to MAC based systems.

So what I am saying is, you have made a wise choice going the MAC route.
I am glad I have gone Mac for now. I think any trouble I might have making this rig work properly would be magnified by a factor of 'ouch' with Windows. And familiarizing myself with any DAW at this point is a big part of the learning and Garageband is giving me a fair bit to work with/get used to.

I am pretty certain I will upgrade to Logic - and may just pick up Mainstage first to see if the improvements in sounds will leave me wanting to continue. I find already that the one acoustic piano sound in Garageband (Steinway) is leaving me pretty disappointed - same with the small handful of other pianos - Rhodes/wurl. I just now recorded a little ditty I wrote for my young granddaughter a couple of years ago - and the Wurlitzer sound inspired me to a SpongeBob SquarePants themesong style hawiaan guitar to work with! Not what I want from a Wurlitzer - but I had fun playing a stiff sounding steel guitar! : / But what about pianos?

It is all working pretty good though, aside from one thing about the DAW I don't get........

Regarding latency, one thing that can help is to check things like buffer size on the audio driver. The smaller the buffer size, the better.
..... and that might fit in here. I'm not sure it is latency though, because my problem is a delay in the sound cranking up when I hit record, or even play really. The sound seems to take almost a full second or more to start - and it winds in kind of like an old gramophone - from zero volume as if there is an attack adjustment or filter. Once it is 'active' the midi keyboard response is fine - no delays to bother me at all - in fact really excellent. But, when I start record it gets to me because the sound fades in and I have a bugger of a time starting at first.

And the weird part is - it seemed to begin after a couple of days of not doing that. Even the click track wipes out and doesn't sound until a key is held and the piano or bass or whatever loads up in that delay.

I don't know if that makes sense, if that offers little to describe it, or if that is latency??

I will poke around in the buffers to see what they are set at - and where they are! : )
 
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SeaGtGruff

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That doesn't sound like latency, since it isn't delaying the sounds of the notes. It sounds more like some sort of automatic fade-in/fade-out. If it didn't do that at first, then started after a day or two of working normally, then it might be something that can be turned on or off in the options/preferences/settings, and you just happened to turn it on while you were looking through the available options.
 
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